NewsLocal NewsSan Diego News


New records released over controversial La Mesa trolley arrest

Incident between La Mesa officer, man at trolley station surfaces
Posted at 3:51 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 21:31:30-05

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) – Newly released records reveal that the former La Mesa police officer who was at the center of a controversial arrest video last year had falsified his police report and unlawfully detained a man, according to the reported findings of an investigation.

More than 600 pages of documentation are pulling back the curtain on the investigation into the former officer who came under fire for the arrest of an African-American man outside the Grossmont trolley station in June. In the video, former La Mesa police officer Matthew Dages is seen shoving Amaurie Johnson down on a bench, before handcuffing and arresting him. He was told that he was under arrest for assaulting an officer but after body camera video was released, the police department dropped the charges and put Dages on leave.

In a newly released termination letter, then-Chief Walt Vasquez concluded that after reviewing the results of a third-party probe, Dages was found to have "unlawfully detained [Johnson] without reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in any illegal activity."

The chief also reported that Dages "unjustifiably failed to activate [his] body worn camera (BWC) before making an enforcement contact,” and that Dages “engaged in work-related dishonesty by making false and misleading statements in [his] police report," and administrative review.

The letter reveals that there was reportedly no evidence that Johnson was illegally smoking and there was no legal justification for detaining him for trolley fare inspection.

Another section reads that Dages' false reporting “intended to show that [Johnson] was more combative and resistive, and posed a more significant threat than was the case."

The records read in part that the former officer and his attorney disputed the investigation findings that reported him as being dishonest.

Dages was terminated in August.

He is scheduled to be arraigned this March after being charged with falsifying a police report.